The upcoming dedications of The Katherine D. Elliott Studio Arts Center and The Goldstein Family Carriage House mark an important milestone in the life of the Colleges and the growth of the arts at HWS. The grounds at Houghton House have been transformed and the campus community will celebrate the accomplishment during the coming weekend.
The new, modern Elliott Center is a striking contrast with the venerable Houghton House estate, but this duality reflects the breadth of art itself, as well as the practice of the faculty and students who use the space. “The industrial feel fits with what we do,” said Professor of Art Ted Aub. “We make things.”
It’s not the external face of the Elliott Center that makes the difference, but the studios, offices and classrooms within its walls: spaces that expand the ways in which students, staff and faculty live and work. “The design was driven from the inside out rather than from the outside in,” said Aub. “It was designed based on our needs.” From the ground up, Elliott and Goldstein were products of a close collaboration among students, faculty and architects.
In April 2005, when plans for the Center’s construction and the renovation of the carriage house were still on the drawing board, students organized a weekend of study and discussion with alums. This process, known as a “charrette,” featured a design competition in which current students were grouped with an alum to propose alternate ways of thinking about the building design and develop a solution complete with sketches, plans and a formal presentation to make sure that architecture students have a voice in the new art building.
The new construction has established separate but connected identities for all the forms of artistic expression at HWS. “It’s a very positive environment,” says Courtney Apple ’08. “You feel like you have a real art identity.” Art at the Colleges “just keeps improving.”
Aub relates a recent example of the freedom offered by the new studios: “Before we had to make our large sculptures in sections, ship them to another part of campus and assemble them.” Now, he says “we have a big sculpture sitting inside of Elliott, and it’s not even in the way.”
The space is a revolutionary step forward in many respects, adding personal studio areas for faculty, encouraging professional collaboration with students, expanding gallery space for student use, housing metal and wood shops and other amenities.
Meanwhile, The Goldstein Family Carriage House has been reborn. “Things will open up in a major way for us,” said Associate Professor Mark Jones, who had become accustomed to teaching photography “cheek-to-jowl in the basement.”
In Goldstein, beautiful original woodwork has been lovingly restored and refinished and a number of new capabilities has been added. The building will now play host to an 18-station digital photography lab with a state-of-the-art poster printer, a modernized darkroom for “wet” photography and private studio space for advanced and honors students. “We can do so much more now,” Jones said. “Our horizons look very promising.”
“There’s space to hang work and look at it from a distance now, said Apple, who remembers classes in the attic of the Carriage House. “It’s very important to me to be able to see work from really far away and that just couldn’t be done before.”
Ceremonies dedicating The Katherine D. Elliott Studio Arts Center and The Goldstein Family Carriage House will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4.